Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday showered praises on the people of Urhobo nation for their immense support and contributions to the development of the state in particular and the country at large.
Okowa gave the commendation at the 90th Anniversary of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) held at Urhobo Cultural Centre, Uvwiamuge-Agbarho, Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state.
He said that UPU had, as a socio-cultural group and through its human resources, played remarkable role in the development of the state and Nigeria in the 90 years of its existence.
According to him, UPU has played a major role in the advancement of not just the Urhobo nation but the advancement of Delta and Nigeria.
The governor thanked the leadership of the union for using its relationship with the people to ensure peace and organise them for purposeful development and being of great assistance to any government in power in the state.
“I know the role the UPU has been playing in helping to build peace in Urhoboland and in trying also to extend hand of friendship to other ethnic groups across the state.
“By the time our people in Delta State relate as one, then you would have helped government to solve its problems because once you have been able to establish peace it becomes much easier to develop the state,” he said.
He lauded UPU for the honour done to some illustrious sons and daughters, adding that it would help in encouraging others to put in their best in the growth and development of the nation.
Okowa acknowledged the cordial relationship between the Urhobos and their neighbours, and said that a hand of friendship was very important “because he who extends hand of friendship wants to have a friend.”
“I don’t believe that we must fight everything through; sometimes a kind word or a conversation can help you to get to where you want to be,” he said.
He admonished governorship aspirants to exercise restraints in their consultations and campaigns.
“I want to appeal to our sons and daughters who seek to be governor. It is usually best when you approach it on the basis of friendship. It is usually best that we are choosy on the kind of words that we use in the public so that we don’t start any round of fights.
“No matter how provoked, any person aspiring to the position of leadership must learn to control his anger and speak peacefully to people because in so doing, he attracts friends to himself,” he said.
He called on Urhobo people to prune down the number of aspirants in the governorship race, advising that it was in their best interest to reduce the numbers.
“When there are too many sons and daughters in a race, it creates its own challenge and I believe that the elders have understood this. There is a need to trim down and I believe that the time is now,” Okowa added.
President-General of UPU, Olorogun Moses Taiga, said that UPU was celebrating 90 years, a decade short of a century, adding that the union was Nigeria’s oldest surviving socio-cultural organisation.
He said that UPU saw education as the light that would illuminate Urhoboland and liberate its people assuring that UPU was working on bequeathing an economic legacy to future generations with the proposed establishment of Okugbe Microfinance Bank which was awaiting operational license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Taiga said that the Urhobos would build alliances with other ethnic nationalities in the South-south and beyond to proffer a new destiny for Nigeria as the nation tottered to a new beginning.
“While we do not support secessionist agitations, we align with the call for the restructuring of Nigeria in line with the tenets of federalism. We support the call for the relocation of the headquarters of all oil companies to the Niger Delta and the call for election results to be transmitted electronically.
“Urhobos are in support of states’ collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), the enactment of Anti-Open Grazing Laws, the establishment of State Police and other such progressive factors that will make Nigeria great again,” he stated.
The ceremony featured presentation of awards to deserving sons and daughters who distinguished themselves in various disciplines and made Urhobos proud in the past 90 years.